Despite my loud (and somewhat exaggerated) pontifications about my perpetual single status, I’ve never truly bemoaned my existence as a solo entity. I don’t wipe the tears away on Valentine’s Day, I don’t drown my bed with teddy bears to make me feel less alone at night, and I don’t go to bars wearing man-hunting goggles (and not much else).
I treasure my independence like I treasure my chocolate stash and $78 floral teapot, and am more or less terrified at the thought of having to report my every movement to someone other than my mother. (And, as it turns out, my poor followers on Twitter.) I’ve never needed a man to make me feel whole or viable – that’s what food and my friends are for, and I’d much prefer spending my spare time with exactly those things rather than putting myself through a tortuous evening of stilted conversation with an unemployed aspiring actor who doesn’t even offer to pay for my drink.
Or at least that’s what I thought.
Walking into the Tar Pit, Mark Peel’s new swank lounge/restaurant at La Brea and Melrose Avenues, last Tuesday night, I felt a distinct sense of longing. Not just for a glass of white wine and some raucous conversation with my snarky gal pals, but for something that I haven’t paid (much) attention to in the past few months.
As I surveyed the scene – the lacquered bar stools dotting the expansive bar, the oversized lounge chairs beckoning couples to whisper sweet nothings to each other, and the cozy booths lining the perimeter of the restaurant – a desire stirred inside me. Shockingly, it wasn’t hunger. It was something else entirely unrelated to my stomach.
I wanted to go on a date at the Tar Pit.
Nothing serious, of course – just a good old fashioned date at a good old fashioned-style lounge that serves good old fashioned-style cocktails.
We’d agree to meet at 8 pm, and he’d be sipping a glass of something manly like the Fitty-Fitty with 50% Gin, 50% French Vermouth, orange bitters and lemon essence ($12) when I arrive (on time). He’d stand from his stool at the bar when I approach, give me a shy hug to make me feel welcome and appreciated and then dole out a regulation compliment on my appearance.
“I like those earrings,” He’d say with sincerity. More importantly, he’d actually be looking at my oversized gold hoop earrings (though, in truth, there really isn’t much else for him to look at).
I’d smile, blush like a lady, and thank him – feeling no need to brush his praise off like lint from a coat. He’d gesture toward two chairs, and as I settle in, he’d remain standing.
“What can I get you from the bar?”
“A glass of white wine would be great – thank you.” I’d respond – again, feeling no need to brush his generosity aside. Old fashioned dates require old fashioned behavior. “Going Dutch” would not be in our shared vocabulary that evening.
A moment later, he’d appear with my wine and sit down across from me – immediately engaging me with his warm eyes. He’d ask about my day, inquire about my blog (he knows how important it is to me) and feign enthusiasm when I gush about a new quinoa recipe I recently made.
“I love quinoa! Have you had the scarlet quinoa at M Café de Chaya?”
My eyes would light up. “I love M Café de Chaya!”
Moronic grinning would commence, only to be interrupted by a server coming by to ask if we’d like to look at a menu.
“Yes, please.” He’d say without hesitation, and subsequently insist that we order the artichokes trastevere, deep-fried artichokes with cynar aioli ($8), and the white bean & pecorino salad ($11) because he knows that women do not subsist on fried bar foods alone.
When the food arrives, we’d be so caught up in our discussion about why runners are superior human beings and the importance of maintaining a sanitary kitchen, we can hardly be bothered to eat it. Neither of us would mind that the artichokes sound much better on the menu than they are in the fried flesh. And while the white bean salad is a triumphant execution, we would still be too focused on each other to really pay it notice.
The bill’s arrival would not inspire awkwardness at the table. His credit card would be nestled within the black leather book before I can even reach for my clutch. I’d try to protest, but he’d wave it away in a gesture that seems to say, “I’m not done wooing you just yet.”
I’d thank him, he’d smile and lean in to ask, “When can I see you again?”
I’d shrug, playing it cool like the Gin Gin Mule cocktail with mint, lime simple syrup and housemade ginger beer ($12). I wouldn't be ready to give him full reign on my social calendar just yet.
“Dinner next time.” He’d decide. “Pizzeria Mozza?”
Squelching the urge to start telling him the names of our future kids, I’d acquiesce. “Sounds great.”
And in the moment, I’d mean it.
Until I’d get home and realize that he isn’t all that charming, he should have offered me the last fried artichoke instead of eating it himself, and his breath could have benefitted from the assistance of one or twelve Altoids.
But I’d be happy nonetheless. At the Tar Pit, the ritual of dating would seem painless.
Especially when one has snarky gal pals to discuss it with after.
The Tar Pit
609 North La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA